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From the President - Demanding more for road safety

I am concerned about the lack of progress on measures to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads, particularly in light of a horror start to the year in Tasmania.

In the first two months of this year, to 6 March, there were 14 deaths on our roads, compared to six for the same period last year. This was the largest increase in any state or territory during this time. Despite a significant decrease in travel and vehicle usage since March due to COVID-19, we still remain ahead of last year with a total number of 17 fatalities for the period January to May 2020 compared to 15 for the same time period in 2019.

These latest figures come on top of the road toll for 2019, when 32 people died on Tasmania’s roads, compounded by an escalating injury rate.

We are nowhere near meeting the targets of the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) – signed on to by the Tasmanian and all other state and territory governments in 2011.

Why isn’t the message getting through?

What more should the government be doing to reduce the toll?

In September last year, the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), of which RACT is a member, released its Reviving Road Safety report. This document was prepared in consultation with road safety experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including health, transport and emergency service groups.

On the back of the Australian Government’s own Inquiry into the NRSS that found ‘the Australian Government has not provided sufficiently strong leadership, coordination or advocacy on road safety to drive national trauma reductions’, Reviving Road Safety identifies the priority road safety actions that the Australian Government can take to make the nation’s roads safer.

These include:

Develop a national road safety data hub
Robust data must be used to inform road safety interventions and this data must underpin measurable targets, transparent reporting and real accountability.

Link federal infrastructure funding to road safety outcomes
There must be accountability for responsible use of federal infrastructure funding, including reporting and monitoring of post-construction road safety performance by state and territory governments.

Enhance vehicle safety standards and encourage uptake of safer vehicles
Setting targets and programs to reduce the average age of Australia’s vehicle fleet – so that unsafe older vehicles are replaced – as well as initiatives that drive progress towards these targets.

Assign the Office of Road Safety a leadership role and genuine authority
A whole-of-government approach to road safety is needed, fostering communication and collaboration between departments, statutory authorities and jurisdictions to deliver better, more cost-effective outcomes.

As auto clubs, we believe the federal Office of Road Safety is best-placed to drive these initiatives.

However, to date, we have seen limited progress, even on the programs announced and funded in the last Federal Budget.

Many of the concerns raised in the Inquiry into the NRSS, released in September 2018, remain unresolved.

So, with our death toll spiralling and no clear outcomes in sight, what do we do?

We stand up. We speak up. And we demand more from the government to address this issue.

 

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